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City news, 25.11.2005 15:17

Plushenko to make comeback

figure_skating Plushenko withdrew from the world championships in March because of a groin injury that required surgery. The extent of the Russian's recovery will be tested at the tournament, which begins Friday, with a field including defending champion Stephane Lambiel of Switzerland and United States champion Johnny Weir.

Weir sprained an ankle at Skate Canada in October, but has been cleared for the competition.

Alongside Lambiel, all of skating's current world champions are to take the ice in St. Petersburg.

Canada is represented by Shawn Sawyer of Edmundston, N.B., in men's singles, Elizabeth Putnam of North Vancouver, B.C., and Sean Wirtz of Marathon, Ont., in pairs, and dance team Siobhan Karam and Joshua McGrath of Ottawa.

The strongest challengers to two-time women's world champion Irina Slutskaya are likely to be Miki Ando of Japan, in her first Grand Prix appearance of the year, Yoshie Onda and Finland's Susan Poykio.

Russia appears strong in pairs skating, with world champions Tatiana Totmianina and Maxim Marinin, and European silver medallists Julia Obertas and Sergei Slavnov.

China usually presents the strongest challenges to Russia in the pairs. However, the only Chinese entry, Ding Yang and Ren Zhongfrei, pulled out.

World champion Tatiana Navka and Roman Kostomarov of Russia lead the ice dancing field, with strong competition likely to come from Israel's Gailt Chait and Sergei Sakhnovski, and the United States' Melissa Gregory and Denis Petukhov.

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